HomeHealthMental HealthCommunity Health Assessment reveals needs in Fairfield County

Community Health Assessment reveals needs in Fairfield County

FAIRFIELD COUNTY – The Fairfield County Health Department completed an assessment of community health status and needs that they must conduct every three years. The Community Health Assessment (CHA) revealed how the health department can work to help the Fairfield County community.

According to Fairfield County Health Department Health Commissioner Joe Ebel, this assessment can provide the health department with guidance on needs in the community that need to be addressed.

“The most important thing is looking at where we need to improve,” said Ebel. “Compared to 2019 to now, what areas should we address that are starting to slide. We’re also looking at it based on what the state average is or what the US average is before that.”

Some of the areas identified as community needs include drug and alcohol abuse, access to mental health services, transportation, and health education.

“One was drug and alcohol abuse and abuse,” Ebel said. “The other was access to mental health care. Those are both somewhat related, but not always. We will have a committee that will work on both areas. county, income levels, things like that, it makes it difficult to access health care then the other was health communication and health education trying to give people information so they can make informed decisions about their own health but also trying to get people to know what services are available in the community.”

One of the causes of many of the problems facing the Fairfield County community today can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ebel said mental health issues in the community, in particular, are likely partly caused by the pandemic.

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“That was one of the keys we wanted to look at,” said Ebel. “I think that’s why a lot of the mental health issues come up more often in this study, especially anxiety. I think that’s why two of the four factors we identified as a priority were related to mental health.”

As part of the CHA, household surveys and interviews were conducted, involving a total of 700 adult Fairfield County residents. These surveys helped reinforce the idea that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on mental health in the community.

Ebel said he was surprised to see how much mental health problems had increased over the past three years.

“I was surprised how much of an impact we had on mental health over the last three years,” said Ebel. “The number of people who reported having ever had a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder increased from 19.5% to 28.6% this year. So that’s pretty significant.”

One way the health department plans to respond to mental health and other issues highlighted by this review is through the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).

“The Community Health Improvement Plan is the next step we are starting to work on,” said Ebel. “We’re taking all the findings from this review, the priorities we’ve identified, and starting to look at what our plan is to try and address those priorities.”

Now that the health department has their findings from the CHA and has started working on CHIP, they will set their sights on helping the Fairfield County community with the various health needs they are seeking.

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